Major crimes have fallen in Payson, but drugs remain a serious issue, Payson Police Chief Don Engler said Tuesday at a community meeting. He also touted the safety of roundabouts, although he got some argument from the audience.
At the lightly attended meeting, Engler also promoted the department's new silent witness program and provided a breakdown on the 2,081 arrests his 33 officers made last year.
Serious crimes have declined, but the tally includes 530 traffic accidents and 193 serious drug arrests. Despite making nearly two drug arrests a day, Engler said busts for manufacturing drugs like crystal meth have declined significantly.
Engler presented one-year crime statistics for Payson and surrounding communities.
"The Payson Police Department made 2,081 total arrests in the last year; pretty active for a community of 16,500," said Engler.
Engler said index crimes, like rape, murder and assault are down from the same time last year.
He said that in the last year there have been 530 traffic accidents, 575 alarm calls, 397 arrests for disorderly conduct and 193 arrests on major drug charges like sales or possession of dangerous drugs.
He said that while drug arrests may seem high to some people, the majority of them now are for sale or possession compared to previous years when the majority were for manufacturing drugs like crystal meth.
"There were about 270 arrests a year for manufacturing drugs when I first took over as chief," said Engler. "I don't know exactly how many we have made in the last year, but it is nowhere near 270."
In addition, Payson Police Det. Sgt. Tom Tieman highlighted the department's new silent witness program. The department launched a tip line for people to report crimes and perhaps receive rewards, all without revealing their identity. Anyone who calls (928) 474-3894 will get a live operator 24 hours a day.
Earlier in the meeting Engler became unexpectedly drawn into an impromptu debate about the possible placement of a roundabout to connect a proposed extension of Mud Springs Road to Highway 260.
"Statistically, roundabouts are safer than intersections, and even have a calming effect on traffic," said Engler.
Phoenix Street resident, Shirley Dye, said she doesn't like the one already at the intersection of Highway 87 and Tyler Parkway in front of the Home Depot and doesn't want one on Mud Springs Road either.
Roundabouts are confusing because it is hard to determine when and where someone is going to turn in or out of it, said Dye.
She also said the lack of signage at roundabouts, except for yield signs, confuses her and other drivers.
Engler agreed roundabouts take a little getting used to, but reaffirmed his support.
"True, there are no stop signs, just yield signs, but roundabouts have been proven to calm traffic and actually help keep it flowing, thus relieving congestion," said Engler.
Engler said there have been 10 accidents in the last year at the roundabout at Tyler Parkway, but most have been minor and none involved injuries.
In comparison, the nearby intersection at Frontier Street and Highway 87, where there is a light traffic, has experienced a lower incidence of accidents, only five, but Engler said they were more serious in nature and many involved injuries.